The Bechdel Test has been on my mind recently. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a simple little ditty you can sing in your sleep, namely:
1. The story/movie/whatever has two named women characters
2. Who have a conversation (meaning that they both talk to each other)
3. About something, not a man.
Anything. Shoes. Genetic manipulation of sapling DNA. Clouds of choking dust. The freaking wall color. Anything. (For a list of movies, see BechdelTest.com)
As they say in some commentaries, this is neither a guarantee of a balanced story nor of a story that has women as compelling or powerful characters. However, it’s a start, you know? It’s a start.
Because, when you apply the opposite rule, you get like 100% of movies and 100% of books ever written, except maybe Thelma and Louise (which I haven’t seen, so I’m just making things up, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie or read a book that did not have two male characters having a conversation about not women).
Romantic comedies are particularly bad at this, I’ve noticed. There actually are women characters in romcoms, but they don’t often bother to discuss anything other than the problem getting or having a relationship with a man. Unless it’s a lesbian comedy, of which I can think of like one independent film. Maybe two. Which is sad.
I think one of the problems is that there’s not a lot of competition on this front yet, despite the whole women’s movement. There’s not a lot of content out there yet that goes the other way. Because I believe that to obtain balance, we need to have content available that shows the other side of the spectrum, dramatically. Books and movies that minimize the male voice as much as possible.
Why? Well, because in my personal world, I work with women. I work with a lot of women. I live with women. Believe it or not, I respect my friends and co-workers who are women. And I rarely, if ever, discuss men with them. Seriously.
So, if they say you should write about what you know, I really should be writing about women running multi-billion-dollar Fortune 500 companies. I should be writing about girls who build things out of cardboard and duct tape. I should be writing about women who create cooking and entertainment shows on YouTube and become famous.
Because that’s life today. I’m just kind of sad that our fiction in many ways hasn’t caught up to the reality of the world of fact around us.
I’d also like to see more women in video games. And no, I’m not talking about cheesecakey women who fight with big guns, have bigger guns hiding under their clothes, and look like they should be posing for a glamour shot on a nerd’s shelf. I’m talking about women like in The Walking Dead video game, who try to navigate the zombie apocalypse. I’m talking about Mass Effect, where my Commander Shepherd can be female, has women on her team, and hardly ever talks about anything other than the mission.
So, if you’re like me and you want to see more of this stuff, buy it. Promote it. Talk about it. Because it’s all about us. We’ve got to make our voices heard, every day.
Wow. Soap box. Step off, dude…
Back to your not-so-regularly scheduled commentary…